Monday, March 2, 2020

Slaughter Pen Trails

Slaughter Pen Trails

The secret is out: Bentonville, Arkansas is home to world-class mountain bike trails that attract riders from all over the country thanks to the challenging terrain and beautiful scenery. The most popular "toys" are located along the Slaughter Pen Trail System - which features more than 20-miles of single track surface - that takes riders through the scenic foothills of the Ozark Mountains surrounding this emerging mountain biking mecca. Bentonville  hosts several major bike events (races and competitions) throughout the year on the Slaughter Pen trails. 

Slaughter Pen Hollow Multi-Use Trail System

Slaughter Pen Trails Map

The Slaughter Pen Trail system runs on the north side of Bentonville around a mountain and through the surrounding valleys. The city continues to add new trails and "toys" for riders to enjoy. Slaughter Pen offers trails for beginning, intermediate, and advanced riders. However, many of the most popular "rides" are also the most challenging ones.

You can access the Slaughter Pen Mountain Biking Trails in several areas around Bentonville via the Northwest Arkansas Razorback Regional Greenway, as well at Hidden Springs on North Walton, Compton Gardens, Crystal Bridges, and near Bella Vista Lake. (I usually park at Hidden Springs). In addition to mountain biking, Slaughter Pen is open to hiking and trail running as well.

The unusual name "Slaughter Pen" comes from the history of the area that contained numerous slaughter houses. I believe they were probably for hogs. 

All-American Trail

All-American Trail

The Slaughter Pen Trails are actually a network of several trails that connect together. Many of these smaller treks have their own names. For example, the All-American trail runs along the hills next to the Razorback Greenway. Many bikers enjoy the fast, smooth ride of the paved Razorback Greenway. However, they enjoy being able to take some quick, scenic "excursions" on the rugged All-American trail into the woods, up and down steep hills, and along the edge of cliffs.

The All-American trail also offers riders several fun obstacle courses that are built into the terrain. The ramp (pictured below) is near Crystal Bridges. There are several more ramps to the north as well.

Slaughter Pen Mountain Biking Trail

If you are familiar with my blog, you know that I go hiking on the Razorback Greenway often. I feel like there is a new mountain bike trail, obstacle course, or ramp nearly ever time I go hiking down there lol. Since Slaughter Pen is a multi-use trail system, I often take my own scenic excursions into the hills and woods that surround the Razorback Greenway. The rugged paths offer a more challenging hike that give my legs a real workout.

Bentonville Mountain Bike Scene

Bentonville is definitely a bike town. In fact, it has become known as the "Disneyland" and "Mecca" of mountain biking. If you don't have your own bike, you can rent one from several rental shops around the square. Phat Tire is very popular. There is another rental place across from the 21C Hotel. Crystal Bridges welcomes bikers. The museum even offers them free admission. (I am jealous they don't offer hikers free admission too). 

Bentonville's Slaughter Pen Trail system is home to several major mountain biking festivals throughout the year. These festivals attract riders - of all skill levels - from all over the country. I have actually been hiking on the Razorback Greenway during a few festivals. That gave me a front-row "seat" to watching some very talented riders compete in the challenging Ozarks terrain. 

Not all of the unpaved mountain bike trails are dirt. I have seen a few sections of trails that are made from a really expensive stone. 

Slaughter Pen Bike Trail

The stone trail (pictured above) takes riders from the Razorback Greenway to the Slaughter Pen Mountain Bike trails to the mountain just north of Bentonville.

Much of the Slaughter Pen Mountain Bike Trails run in a valley along a creek. Unfortunately, after heavy rains, the creek turns into raging rapids that flood everything around it. In the trail system's early days, riders would cross the creek with a very small, light-weigh wood crossing. However, flash floods would regularly destroy those little crossings. In the last year, the City of Bentonville has built these more substantial bridges that should be able to take more punishment from flash floods.

In short, whether you are a mountain bike novice or enthusiasts, you need to take a trip to Bentonville, Arkansas to enjoy the Slaughter Pen Trail system. My pictures don't do it justice. No matter your skill level, you can find the perfect trail to enjoy the perfect ride through the scenic Ozark Mountains. If you get up the courage, go cliff riding or better yet, take on a few ramps and some steep turns on an obstacle course!

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